The beautiful and intricate sets for the Royal Opera House at Covent Gardens are built in an equally stunning vaulted workshop in Purfleet Essex to the east of London. Topped with a green roof planted with sedum, the Thurrock Workshop, also known as the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, was designed and built by Nicholas Hare Architects. The open warehouse is large enough to fit the entire stage inside and arched skylights fill the space with loads of natural light to help the craftspeople build the sets.
In 2007, the Royal Opera House appointed Nicholas Hare Architects to design a new production workshop for set construction and fabrication at a new site in Purfleet Essex. Inside the large warehouse-style building is enough space for a large paint-shop for vertical and horizontal scene-painting as well as carpentry and metal workshops. The vaulted ceilings, made possible by structural truss members, provides height and area needed to build complete sets as it will be seen on stage before being transported to the Royal Opera House in London.
The arched roof is living and planted with sedum to soak up rainwater and provide extra insulation. Long skylights curve in the roof to provide even daylight with reduced glare creating improved conditions to work under. The cedar wood faced building has a strong presence in the new production campus at the High House Production Park, which includes restored barns and gardens. Completed in November of 2010, the award winning workshop has been successfully building new sets for 2 years now. The public is invited to tour the workshop and learn what goes into building the sets for the opera house.
Images ©Hufton + Crow, Pete Le May, ROH 2012